USC: David Roberts

First look: Arizona

September, 27, 2011
It's not a winning streak or a losing streak -- yet.

But it's a streak all the same, and it began Saturday against Arizona State, when Sun Devils quarterback Brock Osweiler tore up the Trojans defense, rendering their pass irrelevant and their secondary ineffective.

From now on, USC's going to face a lot of Osweiler-quality quarterbacks this season. The Pac-12 is, for all intents and purposes, a quarterback's conference. And the Trojans are going to be challenged in the same ways that Osweiler tested them in Tempe.

"We're gonna hit a streak," Trojans coach Lane Kiffin said this week. "We’re going to have to get better in what we’re doing."

That streak begins Saturday with Arizona, a 12:30 p.m. game at the Coliseum. Wildcats quarterback Nick Foles' numbers have been spectacular so far this season, the Michigan State transfer throwing for 10 touchdowns and no interceptions with a completion percentage higher than 70 percent.

After Foles, the Trojans will face Cal and quarterback Zach Maynard, whose numbers are strikingly similar to Matt Barkley's this year aside from a weaker completion percentage. Then comes Notre Dame and Tommy Rees, who beat USC last year, and Stanford and Andrew Luck.

(Read full post)

Fall camp practice No. 1 tidbits + video

August, 5, 2011

Three main stories out of the first day of fall camp Thursday: Defensive end Armond Armstead expects to be cleared by the season opener, running back Dillon Baxter is bigger, stronger and faster than ever before and quarterback Matt Barkley has a new roommate keeping him up at night in camp. Here's the rest of what went on at Howard Jones Field:

A cheery Kiffin

Now that was rare.

USC coach Lane Kiffin was positively delighted throughout his seven minutes with reporters at the conclusion of Thursday's fall camp opener, taking the time to credit his players and members of his support staff for their offseason dedication. He was clearly enthused about the way his team began practice, and, for Kiffin, that actually means something.

He's not always happy about his squad. But he had good reason to be Thursday, as the Trojans looked sharp all-around, especially considering there's still a month and 28 practices to go until the season opener against Minnesota on Sept. 3. There were no pads, which is a valid reason to hold most judgment, but there were still hits here and there. For a first day, it was close to as good as it gets.

"We look different than we did a year ago," Kiffin said after practice. "Even than we did in the spring. We look bigger, we look faster, we look stronger. I know it's Day 1, but I love where they're at, physically and mentally.

"Now we've got to put all this talent and all this hard work they've done and put the pieces into place."

To help put those pieces together, Kiffin had a simple message stenciled in white paint just inside the doors on USC's Howard Jones Field: "No distractions."

Waiting on a select few

Two freshmen are still home finishing up summer-school classes at their high schools, Kiffin said: tight end Junior Pomee and running back Javorious 'Buck' Allen.

Pomee's in nearby Moreno Valley; Allen is in Tallahassee. USC hopes both players will be in Los Angeles as soon as this weekend.

Other players the Trojans are waiting on include sophomore receiver Markeith Ambles and redshirt junior running back Curtis McNeal. Ambles, who had one catch as a freshman in 2010, is being held out of practice by USC's coaching staff for the final days of summer school while he focuses on maintaining his eligibility.

McNeal is practicing but has not yet received official word on his eligibility for the upcoming season. He missed 2010 while academically ineligible.


The best-looking play of the day went to senior linebacker Chris Galippo, who smartly tipped a Matt Barkley pass into the hands of Shane Horton for a pick six the other way. Kiffin praised Galippo after practice for being alert on the play. The reason he was able to make the tough play, Kiffin implied, was that he knew exactly which play was coming once the offense lined up in a specific trips set, as they had only installed one in practice preparation.

Still, other players didn't pick up on it like Galippo did, Kiffin said.

The other top defensive play was made by safety Drew McAllister, who came up out of nowhere to snare a Max Wittek pass near the end of practice.

Offensively, sophomore De'Von Flournoy caught two deep passes from Barkley on the day, including one that included a tough adjustment over his back shoulder to grab the ball. Second-year receivers Robert Woods and Kyle Prater also caught pretty deep balls from Barkley.

Freshman running back Amir Carlisle fumbled three times but broke off several long runs and earned thoughtful praise from Kiffin.

Injury news

Aside from those injured in the offseason, defensive back Patrick Hall (knee) and defensive end DeVante Wilson (knee), the only player who was held out of practice Friday was freshman center Cody Temple (back).

But eight players missed time throughout the three-hour practice because of cramping, including Prater and defensive end Nick Perry. Perry missed the conditioning drills at the end of practice because of foot cramps.

Final notes

The first-string offensive line layout Thursday went like this, left to right: Matt Kalil, Jeremy Galten, Khaled Holmes, John Martinez, Kevin Graf. At other contentious spots, Dion Bailey led off as one outside linebacker and Demetrius Wright started opposite T.J. McDonald at strong safety... After the second no-pads day Friday, a 5:15 p.m. practice, USC will put on shoulder pads for Saturday and Sunday's practices and then move into full pads beginning Monday, per NCAA policy...In a statement, USC vice president of athletic compliance David Roberts praised a bill passed this week by California governor Jerry Brown that is expected to punish agents who victimize student-athletes in the state.

USC unveils new athletes and agents policy

February, 15, 2011
USC is taking additional steps to rid itself of the ever-growing agent problem in college athletics. In a Tuesday memo from vice president for athletic compliance David Roberts' office, the school laid out new regulations for its students and faculty members to follow when dealing with sports agents in the future.

The letter indicates that USC will now require advance notification from all students, staff and third parties about any involvement with a sports agent prior to any interaction with student-athletes on USC's campus.

"The university is committed to preventing any actions that a student or other party may take that threatens the NCAA eligibility of our student-athletes or the ability of our institution to remain in compliance with NCAA rules," university provost Elizabeth Garrett and senior vice president for administration Todd Dickey wrote. "In particular, we are committed to protecting our student-athletes from any contact, communication, or conduct with individuals who seek to inappropriately contact or represent student-athletes before their eligibility is exhausted or voluntarily terminated."

Essentially, the new policy requires all students and staff to inform the university upon hiring or enrolling of any involvement with a sports agency or within 24 hours of founding or becoming involved with one. It also requires students, staff and any third parties who plan to be on campus for any period of time to notify the school of any immediate relative who is an agent 24 hours before arriving on campus.

The university sent the memo in an e-mail to its 35,000 students and 5,000 staff members Tuesday morning. Read the full four-page text here.

The letter makes multiple references to student-agents, a concept that had been fairly unheard of in the mainstream until the November incident where freshman tailback Dillon Baxter was suspended for one game by the university and ordered to pay a $5 fine as punishment for accepting a free golf-cart ride from an undergraduate student who was also registered as an agent with the NFL Players' Association.

That agent, Teague Egan, has since had his license revoked by the NFL but is appealing the decision.

USC administrators talk agent summit

February, 9, 2011
USC athletic director Pat Haden, vice president for athletic compliance David Roberts and senior associate athletic director Mark Jackson hosted an agent awareness summit Tuesday at USC in an attempt to gather different perspectives on the changing role of agents and gather notes from fellow schools on their compliance practices. The six-hour event, held in the Founder's Room at USC's Galen Center just off campus, featured a number of prominent attendees from the college and professional football fields, including pro agents Jimmy Sexton, Tom Condon and Rick Smith, every Pac-10 athletic director, SEC commissioner Mike Slive, multiple NCAA representatives, NFL vice president of football operations Ray Anderson and NFL Players' Association agent administration director Mark Levin.

Jackson said the event was Haden's brainchild. Here are a few of the highlights from the news conference held by the three USC athletic administrators after the event:

(Haden, on his main takeaways from the event)

For me, a person who's in a new profession, seven months of a new profession at an institution that's on NCAA probation, selfishly I was looking for the best practices by other institutions in our conference. We also had the SEC involved, as well. There were two main takeaways for me: one is that lots of Pac-10 schools seem to be using extenders of compliance, if you will -- that is, trainers, athletic staff, people who are around your student-athletes a lot more than the compliance stuff or others that might answer questions for student-athletes, might be a resource for them. And then having position coaches, particularly on a football team, have their antennae up and be strong enough and disciplined enough and courageous enough to ask tough questions and, if appropriate, talk to compliance about those issues. That was one strong takeaway, more tactical than strategic.

(Read full post)

USC to host agent awareness summit

February, 7, 2011
USC is hosting an agent education and awareness convention this week in an attempt to explore different perspectives from universities, student-athletes and coaches on the topic of agents, the school announced Monday.

The invite-only summit, which will also address maintaining athletic eligibility, will take place Tuesday at USC's Galen Center. Presenters at the event are scheduled to include representatives of the NCAA, NFL and NFL Players' Association, as well as the Pac-10 and SEC. Athletic directors from each Pac-10 school and several prominent agents are also expected to be in attendance.

University president Max Nikias, athletic director Pat Haden, vice president for athletic compliance David Roberts and senior associate athletic director Mark Jacksonwill be there on USC's behalf.

"Obviously, the issue of college student-athletes dealing with agents is a hot-button topic," Haden said in a statement. "We at USC know that first hand. We decided to organize this summit so that all of us at USC can pick the brains of our peers throughout the Pac-10 and also hear from those on the firing lines at the NCAA and Pac-10, at the NFL and within the agent community.

"Our goal is to gain valuable input in this area as we move forward here at USC, and also to provide a constructive dialogue and exchange of ideas between all of the participants."

The event is organized by USC's Professional Sports Counseling Panel. Roberts and Jackson are two of the panel's seven members. Three other USC staffers are also on the board, as well as Virginia-based Cornerstone Sports Consulting head Joe Mendes.



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